18 July 2011

Evolution, subspecies and the Welfare Junkies

If a radical change is introduced in the structure of a situation, such as was introduced in 1945 with the onset of the Welfare State, there are two reasons why what people anticipate as the consequences of this change may turn out to be wildly inaccurate, even if their anticipations are not rationalised and intended to conceal their real motives.
It is a fact of genetics that if a situation arises which favours some new subsection of a species of plants or animals, that subspecies will quickly arise and expand, with characteristics which are increasingly well adapted to the favourable situation. And the development of the subspecies will increase geometrically with every generation.
It is a less well established fact, but may be surmised, that human psychology adapts itself to the circumstances in which it finds itself. If it knows that its survival and that of its offspring is entirely dependent on its own achievements in making provision for them all, it will be motivated in certain ways. If, on the other hand, it finds that it will be rewarded (at least to a certain extent) for dependency, it will go into a psychological mode that will make the best use of these circumstances, and drives and ambitions which it might otherwise have will fall into abeyance (or repression).
In the Daily Mail of 9 July, A. N. Wilson wrote an article about the growth of populations of welfare junkies, as shown on a BBC television programme.
The participants on the programme will probably not live as long as the average middle-class person who abstains from heroin and a daily diet of chips. But they are still — those of them who do not die of an overdose — going to live a full span. Most of these families, who have never worked and are not really in a position to work, or to do anything useful ... will simply have to be ‘contained’ by society. ...When they have wrecked their livers with alcohol and their digestions with fried food, they will be taken to expensive National Health Service hospitals. And when they can no longer manage on their own, they will be taken into even more expensive care homes. ...We have had 66 years of a fully-funded welfare state.
(From article ‘The welfare junkies’)
My parents, with very high IQs and aristocratic ancestry, lived to 82 and 89 respectively with very little contact with the NHS until the very end, when they were considered too old for it to be worth trying to prolong their lives. On the other hand, it is probable that many who would not previously have survived to pensionable age now do so, at considerable expense to the NHS. And these are probably more likely to go into care homes than those with the highest IQs, such as my parents, who had good genetic constitutions, a frugal and forethoughtful lifestyle, and a devoted offspring (in me) who would do everything possible to prevent their being taken into care.
The proportions of different types of people within the population of pensioners has been changing continuously since 1945. Before that date, careful and conscientious people like my parents, with above-average IQs, probably predominated, and people who had lived as Welfare Junkies, or in some equivalent way, were probably a small minority. If the relative proportions have not already been reversed, they are surely on the way to being so.